Sports and Aquatic Centre

The Glen Eria Sports and Aquatic Centre, locally known as GESAC, is a community fitness centre fostering healthy habits and social relationships. Nearing on 10 years old, the complex deserved a thoughtful interior facelift that responds to those that use the space.

The Stylesmiths lead designer, Cara Gabriel collaborated with the GESAC team to rework and elevate the public and private zones for the gym, retail, reception, workplace and café.  

GESAC members are welcomed into a spacious foyer with paths leading off to all sections of the sports and aquatic centre. The integrated entry is the meeting point for reception, retail, café, and pool entrance, plus access to basketball courts, upstairs gym, cycle class, Pilates studio, and amenities. From when guests walk in, there is a seamless transition from old to new, that makes all the recent changes look like they belong.

With so many facilities on offer, GESAC is in direct competition with other high-end private gyms and dedicated Pilates studios. The dilemma was finding the right design direction to hero the many attractive selling points. A key requirement of the brief was accessibility, reflecting the ethos on which the establishment was built, “Every Body is Welcome.” Approaching every element with a sense of inclusiveness and individuality has resulted in a public environment that embraces all via a sympathetic blend of neutrality and warmth.

Opting to replace the flooring throughout was a big, yet important display of this attention to detail. In such a high traffic environment it’s common for flooring to need to be replaced every five to ten years to ensure the safety of members. Considering this short life cycle and the product’s “end of life” impact on the planet, the importance of specifying a biodegradable material could not be overstated. The entrance has been resurfaced using Marmoleum, a natural combination of raw coco bean flex and linseed oil which doesn’t include harmful synthetics like PVC or polyolefin. For the walk-off area that boarders the pool, heavy duty marine carpet has been installed for its slip resistance and being wheelchair friendly.

It was also important to reflect the tactile experience of swimming within the surrounding design. With the indoor/outdoor pools and aquatic playground being the main attractions at GESAC The Stylesmiths utilised the humid conditions by adding tropical plants which soften and add an organic element to the interior spaces. Continuing the connection with nature, exterior finishes were selected where possible to add depth and durability. The reception is wrapped in brick facing tiles paired with a textured render that’s incredibly durable against heat and moisture. The reception desk is flanked by a retail section that is inspired by flexible merchandising units and includes new clothing racks that have customised bases, designed to hold pebbles and plants, offering textural interest to break up the rows of hanging garments. 

Upstairs, the once dated gym areas have been transformed into a more dynamic and motivating work out space. Bright, spacious and fitted with the state-of-the-art facilities. The Stylesmiths were resourceful, working with the existing spaces to offer a creative way to enhance both the cycle and pilates studios. Originally in each other’s place, the pilates studio now resides centrally in an oval shaped room with glass panelling. Where there was formally pink carpet and a gloomy ceiling with dark decaled windows that made classes feel exposed, is now a welcoming space. In a large room with glass walls, it’s easy for noise to echo, so flooring with a natural appearance and acoustic qualities has been installed, injecting a feeling of neutral calm whilst also being supple underfoot. Bright daylight is softened by sheer curtains that add a sense of privacy and enclosure by further dampening the sound. Textured paint on the back wall offers an earthy element which connects the space to the interiors on the lower level.

Adjacent, the cycle studio has found its new home in a moody, immersive room fitted with dark materials and neon strip lights in various patterns that mimic high energy. Bikes are staggered on levelled steps that allow all participants visual access to the screen ahead of them. Forward thinking means that this room is technology based – instructors guide participants in digital classes, virtually riding across various terrains and landscapes that are projected at the front of the room. Rubber flooring is used in this space, its industrial properties making it easy to clean after a heated class.

To cap off a workout, the change rooms were given a refresh, with the introduction of a makeup bar. New fixtures, a splash of wall colour and glazed tiles with smooth edges all combine to create a lux utilitarian environment, as far as public restrooms go. The design of these change rooms has maintained their functionality in being low maintenance yet chic, complimentary to the overall GESAC experience.